Film Review: Villa Amalia
Director: Benoit Jacquot
I sacrificed one of my Lovefilm allocations for Villa Amalia, purely because I thought a girl I was seeing at the time might like it enough to sleep with me; just call me Mr Romantic. Unfortunately, it backfired, we slept together long before she had a chance to view it, then she got a job organising club events and decided my dick, film taste, and general awesomeness were surplus to requirement. In the interest of fairness, I did get offered some honey as recompense (See Film Review: The Box), but from that point up until yesterday, I lost all interest in watching Villa Amalia. Then I saw Doomsday, so one more thing to say about Doomsday, is it put me in the mood to watch a French film about a middle-aged woman finding herself. Go team!
There’s really not much to say about Villa Amalia. It stars Isabelle Huppert as Ann, a successful middle aged piano player, who discovers her husband is having an affair 3 minutes into the film, and embarks on a fresh start that encompasses a haircut, a fair amount of telling people things are finished, walking, and Italy. There are a few support characters, such as Ann’s husband, who, after having said affair, suddenly decides he’d quite like to stay married to Ann, sentiments that could probably be expressed more suitably than travelling alone to London and leaving your estranged wife a drunken, whining answer machine message. This is exactly what Ann’s husband decides to do; at least try to sweeten the deal with honey there fella, boom boom. #Shudder#. Then an extra shudder for finding myself hash tagging.
Moving on, there’s a weird guy, whom Ann encounters at the same time as her husband’s infidelity, I thought he was gay, but at one point he tries to kiss Ann, so guessing he’s not, and an elderly Italian woman who keeps talking about her dead relatives, then chastising Ann for showing any sympathy. Oh, and Ann’s father who suddenly appears and causes a blah blah blah.
There’s really not a lot to the support cast, they don’t get much time, and are predominantly just vehicles for Ann’s character to move forward, which is fine, because if anyone can carry a film about a middle-aged French woman finding herself, it’s Isabelle Huppert. Unfortunately, it also means there’s no real time for sub plots or other devices to hold the audience’s attention. Basically, to summarise, if you like the sound of the premise, you’ll enjoy this film, if you don’t, watch Doomsday first, then you will. Consider Villa Amalia a form of holistic rehab, there’s no real healing properties per se, but there’s nothing particularly harmful either, just a simple film for when you’re bored or sick of homages.
Right, that’s it, I’m not mentioning fucking Doomsday again!
Finishing a review so early, and not having much to whine about leaves me feeling a bit empty inside, so I’ll finish with some uneducated, yet particularly on the ball opinion about Isabelle Huppert.
Time of The Wolf, by Michael Haneke; if you haven’t seen it, is well worth checking out. A French family try to survive in a sort of apocalyptic France, good all round film. The mother of the family in particular stands out, and at first I honestly thought I was watching Kristen Scott Thomas. I was wrong, it was Isabelle Huppert. Interested I started watching some of Huppert’s back catalogue, and was delighted to find out she was the nihilistic Catherine in I Heart Huckabees. No one escapes that film without a thumbs up from me, even Mark Whalburg. A confused, what the fuck was anyone talking about, thumbs up, but a thumbs up nonetheless.
Huppert can act, in fact she can act incredibly well with an impressively wide range, and has a filmography that dwarfs anyone not named Samuel L Jackson. If she’d done a few more English speaking films I think she’d probably be regarded as one of the finest actresses of our time, and the fact she’s not is as predictable as it is criminal. What’s to blame for this, well I could rant about plebs being afraid of subtitles, or the disregard for European cinema by the North American studio’s, or how no one seems to look at French films in the same way they do American or Hong Kong films, (If it’s good, remake it, if it’s bad, steal it), but that’ll just lead me back down a path to Doom……… I mean a terrible unspecified British film, and that is a path I am not fucking treading again.
Written By Sam ‘Clearly suffering the after effects of terrible unspecified British film mind rape’ McKinstrie
Unnecessarily on twitter as McKinstHFP
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